Magnesium (Mg) is a highly abundant mineral that is essential to many functions in the human body. It has been found by research that it is involved as a cofactor in over300 enzymatic reactions. Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions in the body by building or breaking down substances, therefore if you are deficient in this mineral, vital metabolic pathways involved in energy production, hormonal balance, bone development and nervous system regulation will not be able to be completed.
Unfortunately, Magnesium deficiency is becoming more and more common in New Zealand due to increased consumption of processed foods and use of fertilisers. Cooking and boiling of food also diminishes a foods’ Mg content. As your body cannot make nutrients, you need to consume them in your diet to enable your body to grow and develop healthily. Mg is a nutrient found in nuts, seeds, legumes and green, leafy vegetables where the recommended daily dietary allowance of Mg is 400mg for men and 310mg for women, although this dose depends largely on your size and age.
Chronic Mg deficiency is an important underlying factor in many clinical conditions including Type II diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart disease, osteoporosis and many more. Common early signs of this deficiency are broad and non-specific but include loss of appetite, muscle cramping, lethargy, nausea, fatigue and troubles sleeping etc.
Therefore, consuming additional Mg as a supplement can be quite valuable, as research has found that it provides a wide range of benefits to your body that can help treat certain conditions. Mg supplements come in a variety of forms with the most common forms being Mg citrate, Mg oxide, Mg glycinate and Mg lactate where some forms are better absorbed in the body than others and application can depend on the particular condition you are trying to improve.
Here are some of the many influences Mg can have on your body systems:
• Bone health:
Osteoporosis is a condition where the density of your bone reduces, making them more brittle and susceptible to fracture. In NZ, at least 1 in 3 women and 1 in5 men will suffer an osteoporotic fracture during their lifetime. Magnesium is required for conversion of Vitamin D into its active form, which supports calcium absorption to increase bone mass density, making your bones stronger and more resistance to forces. Both excessively low and high levels of magnesium have been found to be detrimental to bone health so it is important that you ingest the correct dosage of Mg.
• Muscle cramps:
This is one of the more commonly known benefits of Mg, but does it really reduce your likelihood of leg cramps? As magnesium plays a role in neuromuscular transmission and muscle contraction, there is a chance that it may reduce likelihood of cramp but there is not any real scientific evidence to support this. However, anecdotally, it has been found by some that it does help reduce cramp quite a bit, along with frequent stretching and adequate hydration.
• High blood pressure:
1 in 5 New Zealander’s have high blood pressure which can lead to complications including strokes and heart attacks. Mg helps regulate blood pressure as it has an anti-hypertensive effect by increasing the production of nitric oxide which is a molecule that relaxes blood vessels to allow more blood flow. Studies have shown that Mg supplements lower blood pressure after 3 months compared with people who don’t take Mg supplements.
Depression is a common and often disabling disorder and is particularly prevalent in people under the age of 25 years old with New Zealand with one of the highest youth suicide rates in the developed world. 1 in 5 Kiwi adults aged15 years and over are diagnosed with a mental health disorder. A significant association between very low Mg intake and depression was found therefore it has often been suggested the Mg supplementation can increase mood symptoms, calm stress and enhance your sleep.
• Obesity and Type II Diabetes (T2DM):
Along with rising levels of hypertension, depression and osteoporosis, obesity is also increasing in NZ where 1/3 of our adult population is obese. Low Mg levels, mainly due to an unhealthy diet that is high in calories but poor inessential nutrients, are frequent in obese people and they often go on to develop T2DM where your body is resistant to insulin. These are conditions that attribute to generating a low-grade inflammatory environment in the body that further exacerbates metabolic problems in the body and can lead to development of other chronic inflammatory conditions. Several key glucose metabolic pathways and other pathways that release inflammatory mediators are Mg dependent therefore Mg supplementation appears to have a beneficial effect on obesity and T2DM.
According to a lot of research, Magnesium supplementation could be quite relevant in helping treat a lot of common health conditions that affect a high proportion of the New Zealand population. It is safe and inexpensive and can provide a range of benefits for those that do not meet the daily Mg quota. It is always important to consult with your health care provider first as there are many forms of Mg supplements and the appropriate one for you will depend on the intended medical use, bioavailability and potential side effects.